John O'Brien Sr. founded Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival in an effort to showcase, and thereby preserve the many traditions of his native land. Enlisting a group of incredibly dedicated volunteers, John finally realized his vision for a festival in 1982. During its two day run, that first festival drew more than 3,000 visitors.
The festival committee met soon after the crowds dispersed to evaluate and develop the event for the following summer. Their continual dedication has since produced one of the premier Irish festivals in the United States. The exponential growth of the festival stands as testament to this. In 1985 the event expanded to three days. In 1991, it finally outgrew the small wooded venue used during its first 9 years, and so relocated to The Berea Fairgrounds, where annual attendance figures now number over 30,000.